B3.306 Meaning of plant and machinery
There is no statutory definition of plant and machinery for the purposes of capital allowances, but the expression has a very wide meaning. It includes items used in factories such as boilers, furnaces, shafting, motors, dynamos, electrical equipment, conveyors, dust extraction plant, hoists, trucks, storage tanks, refrigerating plant, locomotives, rails of railway sidings, railway wagons and piping, items used in offices such as typewriters, accounting machines, computers, adding machines, calculating machines and furniture, and general items such as aircraft, hovercraft, telephone installations, fixtures and fittings, including carpets and linoleum, but not linen, crockery or cutlery.
There are provisions which make it clear that certain items are specifically included. These include ships (see B3.350–B3.351), cars (see B3.342), and computer software (see B3.341). Plant and machinery includes a part of any plant and machinery1.
For HMRC guidance on the meaning of plant and machinery see CA21010, CA21200.
The absence of a statutory definition has led to a large number of cases being determined by the courts; some of the more important ones are described below.
In Yarmouth v France, a nineteenth-century case concerned with employer's liability2, it was held that plant, in its ordinary sense, includes whatever apparatus is used by a businessman for carrying on his business – not his stock in trade, which he buys or makes for sale – but all goods and chattels, fixed or movable, live or dead, which he keeps for permanent employment in his business. This general meaning has been accepted in a